NFL teams must have their rosters cut down to 53 players by 4pm this afternoon. While Bill Belichick is likely to make several moves between today and Thursday's opener against the Steelers, here is my second take on who will be on the original 53-man roster.
Quarterback (2) - Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo
Now that Judge Richard Berman has made everything in the world make sense again, Brady will be under center on Thursday night.
Running Back (5) - Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden, James White, Dion Lewis
LeGarrette Blount's one game suspension leaves the Patriots with just four running backs to start the opener. Gray and Bolden provide power running options while White and Lewis are the "3rd Down" backs.
Tight End (3) - Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui
No surprises here although recently acquired Michael Williams - who can also play tackle - could be the fourth tight end but he's more likely to start on the practice squad.
Wide Receiver (7) - Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Reggie Wayne, Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, Matthew Slater
LaFell has been out the entire preseason so he could start the season on the PUP list which would open a spot for another player. Edelman has missed the majority of the preseason too but is expected to be ready to go against the Steelers. Dobson had a shaky preseason but has the talent to really help the offense. Finally, even though he's close to the end, I'm excited to see Reggie Wayne work together with Brady.
Offensive Line (9) - Nate Solder, Ryan Wendell, Bryan Stork, Tre' Jackson, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming, Shaq Mason, David Andrews
I have Andrews making the cut over Josh Kline but that could really go either way. Williams could also factor in here as a hybrid tight end/tackle.
Defensive Line (9) - Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Dominique Easley, Malcolm Brown, Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch, Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom
Rufus Johnson had a solid preseason and could make the initial cut, especially if LaFell starts out on the PUP list. The versatility of this group is very intriguing.
Linebacker (5) - Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower, Jonathan Freeny, Eric Martin
I initially preferred James Morris over Martin but I'll defer to Belichick's opinion on this one.
Cornerback (5) - Malcolm Butler, Tarrell Brown, Logan Ryan, Bradley Fletcher, Justin Coleman
Coleman, signed yesterday, gets the nod over Robert McClain. This unit will likely be changing throughout the season as Belichick will be looking to constantly upgrade what looks to be the weakest group on the team whenever the opportunity arises.
Safety (6) - Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner
Wilson and Ebner were believed to be competing for one spot but at least initially, I have them both making the cut.
Specialist (3) - Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona
No changes here.